The Evolution and Future of Social Security in Africa: An Actuarial Perspective
Monday, March 31, 2014: 11:00 a.m.
Washington Room 5 (Washington Marriott Wardman Park)
Social Security in most African countries has evolved significantly in terms of perspectives, motives, governance as well as innovation of benefits and administration. African countries are slowly, one by one, beginning to reassess the role of social security in correcting several social ills. Empowerment programs and grants are increasingly being provided via social security to women and the youth. From the roots of social security, even very low income countries, some of which have recently experienced several years of civil war and extreme economic hardships, have begun to improve benefit structures and amounts, which include national medical benefits. The countries analysed include Rwanda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and Tanzania, amongst others. The successes and challenges facing these African countries are highlighted to display the state of social security in Africa. Comparisons are done with respect to a few emerging nations such as India and Brazil to identify lessons which can be applied to African nations, given some of their similar socio-economic characteristics. The attention being provided to social security and how it fits into a nation’s plans to lift itself out of poverty is increasingly involving the actuarial profession from international organisations such as ILO and ISSA as well as consulting actuaries and academics. Assessing and ensuring sustainability of social security benefits requires actuarial valuations to take long-term consequences involving demographic changes into account in the face of providing the benefits in the short term; asset liability modelling to ensure adequate resources are held; ensuring that results are appropriately reported and communicated to key stakeholders; as well as developing long-term strategic plans and dynamic systems surrounding all of these issues. In this paper, the role of actuaries is brought to the centre of the increasingly changing face and evolving culture of social security in taking Africa closer to poverty alleviation. (Co-author Fatima Badat could not attend ICA 2014.)
*Awarded PBSS Track Prize